Review: 'One Less Problem Without You' by Beth Harbison (2016)
Meet Prinny, Chelsea and Diana. Prinny is the owner of Cosmos, a shop that sells crystals, potions, candles, and hope. It’s also a place where no one turns down a little extra-special cocktail that can work as a romance potion or heal a broken heart. But Prinny is in love with her married lawyer and she’ll need nothing short of magic to forget about him.
Chelsea works as a living statue at tourist sites around Washington, DC. It's a thankless job, but it helps pay the rent. That, and her part-time job at Cosmos. As her dream of becoming a successful actress starts to seem more remote and the possibility of being a permanently struggling one seems more realistic, Chelsea begins to wonder: at one point do you give up on your dreams? And will love ever be in the cards for her?
Diana Tiesman is married to Leif, a charismatic man who isn’t faithful. But no matter how many times he lets her down, Diana just can't let him go. She knows the only way she can truly breakaway is if she leaves and goes where he will never think to follow. So she ends up at Cosmos with Leif’s stepsister, where she makes her homemade teas and tinctures as she figures out whether she'd rather be lonely alone than lonely in love.
Last year I finally got the chance to sit down with a novel by an author I had been meaning to be introduced to for quite some time already: Beth Harbison. I continued to find reviews of her books from friends or other bloggers on Goodreads, I saw her novels pop up as recommendations on Amazon, but somehow I still hadn’t picked up one of her books myself. I enjoyed ‘If I Could Turn Back Time’, but I also couldn’t help the feeling that I had somehow expected more (click here to read my review). I was determined to give the author another chance, so when I saw ‘One Less Problem Without You’ on NetGalley, I straight away requested a review copy and here we are. Not too long ago I finally sat down with that second Beth Harbison novel, and I was curious to see how I was going to feel after this one…
‘One Less Problem Without You’ focuses on three women that are all linked together in the form of one man. Chelsea has always dreamt of becoming a famous actress, but the reality is that she’s working part-time as a living statue and part-time at Cosmos, a shop that sells potions and crystals. Even though she can try and predict the future for their customers, what does her own future have in store? Prinny, the owner of Cosmos, is also dealing with some questions of her own, mainly revolving around her lovely lawyer whom she can’t seem to get out of her head. Diana is stuck in a marriage to her husband Leif who has cheated on her more than once, but somehow she can’t get herself to leave him. When things get too much, Diana finds herself fleeing to the only safe place she can think of: her step-sister’s shop Cosmos. What’s in the cards for Chelsea, Prinny and Diana; and will they be able to help each other with finding what they are looking for?
When picking up this novel I couldn’t help but secretly hope I’d end up enjoying it more than the previous Beth Harbison novel I read, and I’m really glad to say I definitely did. I personally almost always enjoy stories that focus on several interesting female characters and are told from the different perspectives of these women, and in this novel we have three of those: Chelsea, Prinny and Diana. Each of these women had her own story to tell and I can honestly say I didn’t have one particular favourite, even though I did really like the romance element in Prinny’s storyline. The book deals with a number of issues, some of them quite serious, and I applaud Beth Harbison for bringing all of it together in this enjoyable women’s fiction read.
While I certainly liked this book and was curious to finish it, it still feels as if something is missing in Beth Harbison’s writing. I don’t know what it is exactly; I wish I could point it down, but I can’t help but feel a certain distance between her writing and my reading. I can’t 100% relate to the characters and can’t 100% see what every scene should look like… I am sure this is something personal, and not something that should stop readers from wanting to pick up this read. However, I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t at least mention this feeling in my review. Overall, though, I enjoyed ‘One Less Problem Without You’; it has made me curious for more of Beth Harbison’s writing, and it’s a novel with some interesting female characters and storylines at its core, a book that definitely deserves the chance to be picked up and read!